Cooktown - Cities, Towns and Localities
Cooktown is where the rainforest meets the reef, situated on the
east coast of Cape York Peninsula, just 4 hours drive north of Cairns.
This is where Captain Cook spent 48 days repairing his ship, before returning
home to report on his discovery of Australia.
With its pioneering history,
indigenous significance, Daintree and Lakefield National Parks, its proximity
to the Great Barrier Reef and the rest of Cape York make it a must visit destination.
Cooktown offers a wide range of tours and accommodation options to visitors.
Check out our listing of attractions and events.
• Cooktown Botanic Gardens, COOKTOWN QLD 4895 • Ph: +61 7 4069 6004 •
• One of the highlights of Cooktown is
the Nature’s PowerHouse Environment Interpretive Centre located in the historic
Botanic Gardens. Designed by the architect Bud Brannigan, the building nestles
among huge granite boulders in a lovely bush setting. In the Charles Tanner
Gallery one can see exciting exhibitions on the wildlife of Cape York Peninsula
which emphasis the environmental importance of this area. The Vera Scarth-Johnson
Gallery is home to the superb collection of botanical illustrations by Vera
Scarth-Johnson of local flowering plants.
As well as the two permanent exhibitions there are many special events held at
Nature's PowerHouse throughout the year. Be sure to visit the website to see the
list of current and upcoming events.
|Captain James Cook Museum
• Cnr Helen and Furneaux Sts, COOKTOWN QLD 4871
• The museum houses rare historical
pieces associated with the discovery of the area by Captain Cook, including
Cook's cannon and anchor, and relics of the Palmer River gold rush and early
Cooktown. Built in 1888 as a convent school run by Irish nuns, the museum
documents Cook's voyages and focuses on the 48 days he and his crew spent in
Cooktown in 1770 repairing his ship on the banks of the Endeavour River. The
museum helps celebrate Cooktown's status as Australia's first, if brief,
European settlement. A visit to the museum also provides an insight into the
area's Aboriginal and natural history, the gold rush days and their Chinese
Cooktown Cemetery and Chinese Shrine
• A visit toe Cooktown Cemetery,
accessible on the south-western edge of town, along the McIvor Road, is a walk
into the lives of the final resting place for many of Cooktown's pioneers, their
diverse nationalities, religions and cultures. The graveyard are not just
memorials to the dead, but are testimonies to their rich, varied and colourful
lives. Here lies the stories that bear witness to the tragedies and triumphs of
the early pioneers in those early years of exploration and adventure.
The grave sites have a diversity of architectural styles, made from a wide range
of materials, and many headstones have engraved epitaphs with lead lettering
in-fill. Check out the skills of the stone masons: Melrose and Fenwick,
Townsville; J. H. Simmonds, Brisbane; Steene Memorails, Cairns; E. Greenway,
Denominational division are apparent in the cemetery with Catholic, Protestant,
Chinese and Jewish sections. There are graves, known and unknown, which reflect
the diverse origins of north Queenslanders: Aborigines, Chinese, English,
French, German, Irish, Jews, New Zealanders and Scots.
A grave of particular interest to many visitors is that of the ‘Normanby
Woman’, a mysterious fair-skinned woman who was found living the
Aboriginals, who knew three English words. When she was captured by the English
in 1887, the Aboriginals attacked them in an effort to get her back.
Cook Shire - Cooktown Cemetery and Chinese Shrine
Grassy Hill Monuments
• Located at the eastern end of the
Hope Street, Grassy Hill is named after the fact that the local Aboriginals
burnt the forest on the hill to encourage regrowth of vegetation and to draw
animals back to the region. When Commander James Cook arrived here in 1770, this
hill was covered in grass. It was also the hill that he climbed several times to
view the surrounding reefs, enabling him to navigate a safe passage out, after
the repair of his ship.
Today, trees no cover the hill, along with the occasional house. It is also home
to the Cooktown Lighthouse and Sundial. The lighthouse was built in England and
shipped to Cooktown in 1885. It was automated in 1927. Between 1942-1945 it was
complemented by a radar station and was subsequently dismantled after World War
II. It served the local community and shipping in the area for 100 years until
it was made obsolete, and then restored by the Lions Club. The ‘Grassy Hill
Sun-Dial’ is a ‘Global Positioning Monument’ that shows the direction and
distance to different cities around the world.
Lakefield National Park
• Lakefield is Queensland’s second
largest national park, covering an area of approximately 537 000ha. Gazetted as
national park in 1979, Lakefield is one of the more isolated national parks on
the Cape York Peninsula. The park is located within the Laura Basin which drains
northwards into Princess Charlotte Bay. The landscape is rich and diverse with a
coastal environment of estuaries, mangroves and mudflats to the north, vast
grasslands and woodlands on the floodplains and sandstone hills and escarpments
in the south.
Estuarine crocodiles are present in creeks, rivers and waterholes in this park.
Crocodiles fill an essential role as key predators in the aquatic and estuarine
ecosystem. Lakefield is one of only six key areas for estuarine crocodile
conservation in Queensland, and is crucial to long term conservation of the
species on Queensland’s east coast.
• Queensland Events
Cooktown Discovery Festival
• Ph: 07 4069 5381 •
• This annual event held over the
June Queen’s Birthday weekend celebrates the European discovery and recording of
the unique people, flora and fauna of this area. A popular drawcards is the
re-enactment of the landing of Lt. James Cook and his crew from the damaged bark
Endeavour in 1770.
• ROSSVILLE QLD • Ph: 074069 5871
• A 3 day celebration of music and
festivity, presented by the Cape York Folk Club Inc. Rossville is located about
40 km south of Cooktown.